Empowering Kids for a Healthy Future

Posted 5/1/24

Habits developed during childhood often shape lifelong health outcomes.

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Empowering Kids for a Healthy Future


Habits developed during childhood often shape lifelong health outcomes. Encouraging healthy habits from an early age can significantly improve children's quality of life as they grow older. Every Kid Healthy Week, observed annually during the last full week of April, serves as an initiative to empower kids to start healthy habits early in life.

"Kids are growing so much in these years and we want them to build strong bones, strong muscles, and to feel good about their bodies,” Lindsay Stevenson, MD, Family Medicine Resident Physician with Aspirus Wausau Family Medicine said. “Forming healthy habits early on can help kids prevent or lower the risk of developing diseases and other medical conditions later in life."

With support from organizations like the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and Child Mind Institute (CMI), Aspirus Health offers six healthy habits for families to implement at home:

  1. Get moving: Physical activity not only benefits physical health but also boosts energy, self-confidence, relaxation, and academic performance. Children aged six to 17 should aim for at least 60 minutes of activity daily. Family activities like bike rides or dance parties can make exercise enjoyable.

“Get outside, be physical and just enjoy being a kid and getting that energy out,” encourages Dr. Stevenson.

  1. Load up on fruits and veggies: Introducing children to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables early on sets a healthy eating routine for life. Involving children in meal preparation and emphasizing the benefits of nutritious foods, such as strong bones and lower disease risk, fosters healthy eating habits.
  2. Swap out sugary drinks: Limiting sugary drinks like soda and sports drinks reduces calorie intake without sacrificing essential nutrients. Encouraging water consumption and offering alternatives like low-fat milk or sparkling water promotes healthier hydration choices.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Teaching mindfulness to children helps them manage daily challenges and emotions effectively. Breathing exercises and mindfulness practices promote emotional well-being and resilience.
  4. Limit screen time: Excessive screen time can have adverse effects on children's health. Setting boundaries on screen use, creating screen-free zones, and engaging in non-screen activities as a family promote balanced screen habits. Dr. Stevenson recommends limiting screen time to less than two hours per day.
  5. Attend well-child checkups: Regular visits to a primary care provider (PCP) are vital for monitoring growth, screening for health conditions, and receiving necessary vaccinations. Well-child checkups provide an opportunity for PCPs to offer guidance on healthy habit formation.

“These appointments allow us to monitor how a child is growing and then if any concerns pop up, we can address it right away,” says Dr. Stevenson. “It’s really important to monitor their overall health, their development and make sure they're on a good course for the rest of their life.”

Encouraging children to make healthy choices and providing them with the resources and support they need can set them up for a healthy, long and fulfilling life. Talk to your child’s PCP for more information about healthy changes your family can be making at home. To find a provider in your area, visit www.aspirus.org/find-a-provider.